Last year I looked into becoming a MS partner for my company. After reading all the details that I could find I found out that it is very easy to become a registered partner with Microsoft. However it was another thing to become a certified partner or a gold partner. For those who don’t know, in a nutshell, for each level of partner you need to earn points, and when you earn enough points you move up to the next level. Very simple process, but I found that it was very strange that there was no way for a partner to earn points for helping out User Groups (UG), Study Groups (SG) or the IT community.
As the president of the Ottawa Windows Server User Group (www.owsug.ca), I have found it hard to find companies who are willing to give presentations to user groups where the content is not a complete sales pitch! I have also found it hard to bring in excellent speakers to UG meetings as most business don’t want to sponsor a UG meeting without the sales pitch, let alone sponsor an out-of-town presenter and their cost.
Other than the Canadian User Group Team (Jeff, Rick, et al) and my old MS TAM’s Pierre and Patrick, I have had two companies that have helped out the user group to any degree. CTE Solution and CNC Global (Ottawa Office). Please give them a BIG ROUND of applause for their hard work!
This led me to the idea on how Microsoft could help out user group without any cost!
Microsoft gives each UG/SG partner points to hand out to Microsoft partners who help out the UG, SG, or IT communities. This would mean that a lot more MS partners, particularly registered and certified partners would be banging down the door of UG/SG to help then with presentation, sponsorship, door prizes, anything just to get more points to move the next level. Or Microsoft could add into the partnership levels that in order to achieve each level, each partner would need to give X number of presentation, sponsorship, etc. to UG/SG. In either case the UG/SG get the help that they need.
So one of the things I did to move this idea forward was talk to my MS IT Pro advisor to OWSUG.ca about this idea. He like this idea but told me that was a different team within Microsoft and he would see what he could do. (I know that sounds like he was passing the buck, but trust me when I say he is not.) I talked to the president and one of the VP’s of Culminis and that clearly fell on deaf ears, as they don’t understand what UG / SG need.
I like this idea so much that I am posting it here in hopes that it will gain momentum with other UG/SG and maybe make its way up the chain to someone who can make these changes to the Microsoft partner program. If you like this idea then pass it along: blog it, talk to your MS representative, talk to MS partners at all levels, talk to everyone you know. Maybe, just maybe this idea will be adopted and things will change so that the IT Community is an integral part of the Microsoft Partner program and there UG/SG get the support that they need.